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Asymmetry



A Fate of the Fallen Story



r. phoenix

Asymmetry

 

Copyright July 2018 by R. Phoenix

Distributed by Smashwords

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

This book is meant for sale to adult audiences only. It contains sexually explicit scenes and language which may be considered offensive. All sexually active characters in this work are eighteen (18) years of age or older.

 




Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

About R. Phoenix

Other Books by R. Phoenix



asymmetry

 

noun

a lack of equality between parts

 

adjective [asymmetrical

not identical on both sides of a line

 





Chapter One:
Dorian



They called it hunger, but it was more than that. This was something that burned from the inside out, searing what used to be living flesh and muscle and leaving them intact only by virtue of the vampire blood running through his veins. Blood immortalized him — assuming he didn’t do anything stupid — but the craving for it also made Dorian feel out of control.

He hadn’t thought it would be like this, constantly at war with himself and trying to fight back some new alien thirst. It wasn’t like starvation. He knew what that was like from his life in the human neighborhoods. This went deep beyond it, dipping into desperation almost as soon as he began to feel it in the first place.

His sire had assured him that it would fade, but it had been three weeks and it only went deeper, taking a harsher hold on him. The lights were too bright for his sensitive eyes, and he had to squint against the cheesy neon signs that blinked around him. Every scent was intensified, some recognizable while others weren’t. He salivated — and he still wasn’t sure exactly how that worked, but he hadn’t quizzed Anson about how the vampire body worked.

He wasn’t sure he really wanted to know anything beyond “drink blood, stay out of sunlight, don’t go near fire, and keep away from werewolves.” Simple rules. He didn’t even have to worry about exposure to the public, not now that the Takeover had brought supernatural beings into the light.

Everyone knew vampires existed now. How could they not when those creatures had announced their presence alongside witches and werewolves as they’d obliterated everything he’d ever known? It might’ve been a decade, but the old pain of it still lingered within his now-dead chest. He was one of them now, exempt from the rules that pushed humans firmly into the role of third-class citizens.

His new neighbor’s chihuahua was treated better than her human slave.

Dorian shuddered, not wanting to think about his old life deep in the slums. Everything had been filthy there, a constant game of survival he’d never wanted to play, and now he didn’t have to anymore. Now he just had to stay alive.

Right now, staying alive meant he needed blood, and he needed it in a bad way.

Everyone who passed made him turn, his eyes following them, but he could feel the spark of magic or smell the scent of wet dog. He could recognize the presence of death, too, all of the markers of supes clinging to everyone who passed. It would have to be human.

He chose a direction, ignoring his fangs as they dug into his lower lip and forced blood to bead up on them and stoke his hunger even more. He should’ve stayed with his sire, where feeding was easy, but he’d thought he could handle this alone.

He’d been wrong, but he was more than a little lost, and he wasn’t going to be able to find his way back home before the thirst overcame him and turned him into the beast he didn’t want to be. It was one thing to be a vampire, but to be a monster was another thing entirely…

And those thoughts weren’t helping anymore. Even recounting the terrors to himself couldn’t keep the hunger at bay, and it clawed at his stomach, gathering itself and feeling as though it would throw itself out of him if he didn’t stop it… soon.

Now.

He blinked, noticing he no longer smelled wet dog or death. The buzz of magic still surrounded him, but that… That was it, and he was abruptly aware of it.

Oh, fuck.

There were some segregated places, and it could be dangerous for people like him to wander into them. The fact that he was a fledgling vampire all alone did not make this better for him at all. He didn’t think they were going to accept that as an excuse, but the hunger was howling in his mind, threatening to break free at any moment.

The new, predatory part of him detected movement out of the corner of his eye, and he spun to see the epitome of the perfect feeding ground of the days of old: a derelict, abandoned alley where someone stood alone. The stench of trash still infected the air, but he could deal with that if it meant he could feed.

This was the wrong part of town to be feeding in, but the man — boy, really; he was younger than Dorian, and Dorian was barely twenty-two — felt completely and utterly human against his senses. There was no mark on his wrist, and—

“Stay,” Dorian snarled as the thirst finally overtook him and he stalked toward his prey.

The man didn’t move, thank fuck. He was still getting the hang of this compulsion thing, and he wasn’t always sure it worked when he tried to use it. He’d had to practice on a human blood whore for hours before Anson had finally been satisfied that he could pull it off on his own.

With… very weak-willed and potentially even willing subjects.

Well, it was something, and that was going to have to be enough for now.

Dorian growled under the useless, heaving breaths he still took, half-expecting the man to break free of his compulsion, take off, and run even though there wasn’t really anywhere to go. But that was a bad idea, and even this boy would have to know that. Running from a predator only caused more problems.

Dorian was terrified that if the boy ran, he would truly lose every bit of control that still remained to him.

But he wasn’t going to run, because the compulsion was going to hold, and he was going to feed — and hopefully not leave a corpse this time.

What the fuck had he been thinking when he’d decided he was a big boy and could go hunting on his own? Anson was going to give him that look, and he was going to deserve it.

Dorian finally got to the boy, who was looking at him with his chin lifted high, expression twisted with defiance.

Well. He hadn’t expected that.

“It won’t hurt,” he promised. He could at least promise that. The bite was orgasmic in and of itself, even if someone didn’t know how to do it very well yet. It was sort of like kissing, he’d realized, and while he wasn’t great, he wasn’t bad either.

The boy scoffed — and edged away from him.

Fuuuck.

“I said stay,” Dorian said feebly. The compulsion should’ve come down like a hammer, but the guy just rolled his eyes and deliberately took a step to the side, making the feral part of him jump briefly to the surface until Dorian wrestled it under control again. Anson could weave compulsions like they were fine magic, but Dorian…

Dorian was a baby vampire, and it had never been more obvious than it was right now.

Well, except for that time he’d left a body behind, but he hadn’t meant to do it, and Anson had… taken care of it.

The sad part was that since the guy had been human, the laws didn’t give a fuck. It benefited him, but at the same time…

“Oh, please,” the boy scoffed, crossing his arms against his chest.

Don’t run. Oh, please, please don’t fucking run.

He was barely clinging to the last thread of self-control as it was, and every time the human so much as shifted, the hunger sent red fireworks crossing his vision.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Dorian said again, trying for more confidence but not quite managing it. “I just need to feed. That’s all.”

“Yeah, well, you can’t feed on me,” the boy asserted.

“You’re human,” Dorian said, taking a step closer as his eyes focused on the throbbing vein in his neck.

“Nope.”

Dorian abruptly froze, staring at him. That had to be a joke. He felt human.

“Besides, even if I was…” The guy tugged the collar of his shirt aside, showing a variant of a mark he’d never seen before. “I’m protected.”

No. Fuck no. Dorian knew better than to feed on someone who was marked, witch or human or protected or whatever the hell he was, but he didn’t think he could last much longer. It was a wonder he’d held on this long.

“I don’t care,” he snarled, slamming the boy against the grimy wall behind him and staring at him, pressing his shoulders back against the stone.

“You should,” the redhead shot back. “We don’t like leeches in our territory anyway.”

Dorian’s head bent, and he pressed his lips lightly against the vein.

The guy jumped against him, his heart rate escalating rapidly, and it only made Dorian tighten his grasp. “I said no,” he said, and even though he was a scrap of a thing, he managed to sound more authoritative than Dorian had.

Dorian whimpered, pressing his forehead against the boy’s shoulder as he shook from the sheer force of will it took to keep from burying his fangs into him anyway.

He heard a heartbeat behind him, felt something closing in that he couldn’t identify, and there were two sets of footsteps — and he was fucking screwed.

He made another soft, desperate noise, slowly relinquishing his grasp on the human-not-human he’d been holding onto. He turned, and there had never been a sight more welcome than his sire, accompanied by a pale human who looked nervous but stood his ground.

This time he didn’t wait. He was upon the human his sire had come with in a heartbeat, fangs buried in his neck and arms around him to keep him up as the guy moaned and rubbed against him. Bliss raced through him, strong and made better by his sheer relief. He fed greedily, right until the point fingers closed around the back of his neck.

“Enough,” Anson said firmly.

Dorian whined, but he licked the wounds clean like a proper vampire and let the human stumble back against the wall. Dorian held him up, giving him a moment to recover — and hell, he needed a moment to recover, too.

“You shouldn’t let your baby out unsupervised,” the boy from before said snidely. “He’s gonna get himself in trouble, mister.”

This time, he did run, and Anson didn’t dignify his words with a response. Uh-oh. He was going to hear it when they got back to the apartment.

“You’re lucky I followed you,” Anson did say, which solved the mystery of how he’d been there right when Dorian had been on the brink of losing control. He paused, then offered grudgingly, “You did well. I didn’t expect you to last as long as you did.”

Dorian wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. It was one thing to be a bloodsucking monster.

It was another entirely to be a bloodthirsty monster who was heartbeats away from losing whatever humanity still remained to him.





Chapter Two:
Emery



That had been entirely too close.

Emery was breathing hard when he finally slowed to a stop in front of the boarding house he lived in, but he bounded up the stairs anyway — just in case. He was pretty sure he’d know if either of the vampires had pursued him, but he’d drawn enough attention to himself by running to where they would’ve gotten chased off before long.

This was witch territory, and they didn’t want any fangers around… for reasons that had just been demonstrated. Leeches were dangerous, and out of control, and—

Damn it, why did he have to find them so fascinating, too?

Guilt flashed through him all over again, and he looked down at the doormat but didn’t enter. He should’ve screamed. He should’ve called down the wrath of the other witches in the area, the ones who really did look and feel like witches. Emery might’ve been too weak to register as one, but that was why he’d sworn himself to Ares.

Ares Kellan may not have been from one of the major witch families, but he was a force to be reckoned with — and he didn’t have tainted blood. The Elders were serious about hunting down the old families and destroying their lines, which actually made the oddball witches like them safer. Maybe in a few years, the Kellan line would be recognized, but for now… They were just witches, not humans, and they weren’t on the kill list.

The witch Elders couldn’t afford to purge everyone who wasn’t utterly pure-blooded, not with the rate vampires and even werewolves could multiply. The more powerful families might’ve scoffed at those like Emery, who barely registered on the scale of “witch,” but he was still one.

He finally opened the door and slunk inside, where Ares was lying back on the couch watching TV. He looked like a real badass, slouching and sloppy, too lazy to get up off his ass and do anything when he had people like Emery to do it for him.

“Hey, Em, grab me a drink, would you?” Ares asked without looking away from the TV.

Emery rolled his eyes but crossed over to the fridge that was a whole five feet away from the other witch and grabbed him a Coke. He handed it to Ares then flopped down on the couch next to him.

On one hand, he wanted to tell Ares that he’d nearly been jumped — all right, he had been jumped — by a fanger. On the other, it would piss the guy off, and it would be… well, not a witch hunt, but a vampire hunt. He should’ve done it. The last time vampires had taken one of their own — don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t fucking cry — the witches had invited them to a bonfire… in the middle of the day.

Emery shuddered, not wanting to think about the way they’d looked as the skin had sloughed from their bodies and they’d turned to ash before his horrified gaze. He knew they deserved it better than anyone else, but the fact that it had been his fault didn’t help him any.

No, he was going to keep quiet. He didn’t want to think about that.

He didn’t want to think about Corey.

“Emery? Hello? Earth to Emery,” Ares was saying, waving a hand in front of his face.

He blinked, startled, and looked at him. “What?”

“I was just asking if it was a good night at work.”

Of course he was. If it was a good night at work, that meant tips, which meant more money for Ares to take off the top of what Emery earned. It wasn’t as bad as some of the others required for protection, but some days it was painful to hand over half of his pay.

But at least Ares gave him a closet-sized room to live in, too, so he didn’t have much to pay for anyway.

“Yeah, here.” Emery emptied his pockets, brushing away some lint from his hand, and quickly split his tip money from the night.

Ares pocketed it and went back to watching TV, his interest in Emery clearly having been exhausted already. The other witch was an asshole like that.





Chapter Three:
Emery



When he saw the vampire sitting not only in the courtyard of the cafe he worked at, but in his section as well, Emery blinked. He looked from left to right, squinting into the well-lit area for any other signs he was dreaming. There was no way a vampire would’ve ventured here. It was stupid. It wasn’t like there were “keep out” signs, but the hostility of the witches all around him should’ve deterred him just a little.

The guy seemed utterly oblivious as he sat patiently, and Emery’s mouth finally closed as he adjusted to the idea of a vampire here.

“Is that a…?” his coworker asked, blatantly staring.

“Fanger,” Emery said glumly, fidgeting with the menu.

Menu. Did he need a menu? Vampires didn’t eat food, did they? He’d never heard of them eating regular food before, but he was sitting in a damn cafe so obviously he wanted something, right?

“You want me to take it?” she asked, casting a wry look at the menu in his hands. “I can tell him to get out.”

“No,” Emery said quickly. He wasn’t sure why he was protesting when he wanted the vampire to leave, but he… wanted to find out why he was there. That. That was it. “I got it. I mean, I doubt he’ll stay long.”

Not with the way everyone else kept stealing glances at him, like he was the first vampire they’d ever seen, and the guy withstood their stares even though he hunched his broad shoulders in a little.

He hurried to the table, ready to tell the vampire to leave himself, but he stopped when he saw the look on his face. He looked… anxious. It was weird, and he paused before giving a shake of his head and leaning down to hiss, “What are you doing here?”

The vampire blinked at him, and why he looked taken aback, Emery wasn’t quite sure. It wasn’t like it wasn’t obvious that he wasn’t welcome there! “I wanted to apologize to you,” he said reasonably, though his voice was similarly quiet. At least he understood that the other patrons didn’t need to hear their conversation.

“Okay, fine, you apologized. Get out of here.”

Again, the vampire blinked. “Did I do some—” He was at least smart enough to cut himself off, and he even had the grace to look embarrassed.

“Yes, you did something wrong!” Emery whispered urgently.

“Everything okay over there?” his manager asked from a few feet away, making Emery jump.

“Y-yeah,” Emery replied, bobbing his head in a nod. “Was just giving some directions back to the fountain.”

The fountain was what informally separated the homes of those who chose to live only among their own kind from werewolves and vampires — and humans.

His manager nodded, but he kept his eyes on the two of them.

“I just—”

“I get off in an hour,” Emery whispered urgently. “Just… if you won’t shut up, meet me there.”

The vampire stood, thank fuck. “It’s Dorian,” he offered.

Emery only shot him a look, and this time Dorian took the hint.

Dorian bowed his head slightly. “Thanks for the directions,” he said, his voice still pitched low but at least loud enough for the other patrons to hear that he was done and thankfully leaving.

Emery didn’t let out his breath until the guy vanished into the crowd, then he sagged down against the chair. That had been close. What was a vampire doing there? Why was he so insistent on talking to Emery? Would he actually wait at the fountain?

Would Emery really go to the fountain?

He had an hour to think about it — a long, painful hour, because it was a slow night — and by the time he finished sweeping up the courtyard, he’d decided he wasn’t going to go. He collected his tips, fully intending to go back home… and started walking down the street that would lead him to the fountain instead.

Damn it. What was he getting himself into?

The hope that the vampire would’ve just gone back home was eradicated when he saw Dorian sitting at the edge of the fountain, staring at all the change that had been thrown in there over the years.

Did people still use it as a wishing fountain?

Did their wishes ever come true?

“Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Emery hissed as he came up behind the vampire — who, much to his chagrin, didn’t even jump or twitch.

“No more today than any other day,” Dorian said, looking up at him. “I just… That wasn’t like me. I was stupid. So I wanted to apologize. I didn’t expect things to be so… so…”

“We don’t like fangers near our homes,” Emery said rudely, hoping he’d be able to discourage the vampire without even talking to him for more than five minutes. Yet he couldn’t help but notice the way Dorian’s chest still rose and fell, how his cheeks still held some color to them, how he looked for all intents and purposes… human.

“Sorry.” Dorian looked a little sheepish, and he fidgeted then, glancing back at the money in the fountain.

“How did you even… figure out where I worked?” Emery demanded. “You do realize that’s a little creepy, right? Just showing up at the cafe after nearly making a meal of me last night?”

Dorian rubbed the back of his neck. “I really only wanted to apologize,” he said. “I’m embarrassed. I thought I could handle it, and I couldn’t. There was just so much…”

“Why are you telling me all of this?” Emery asked. He’d only met the vampire once, and he’d been facing down those momentarily-hidden sharp fangs at that!

The vampire looked… pitiful. It was seriously looking at what an oversized kicked puppy might look like, because even though the guy was built like a brick house, he didn’t carry any of the confidence that might’ve gone with the muscles Emery could see under the shirt that clung to him, or… “I don’t know?”

“Is that a question or an answer?” Emery asked, hands on his hips as he cocked one to the side. “C’mon, you have to admit this is all really fucking weird.”

“I’ve been a vampire all of three whole weeks,” Dorian said, his voice deadpan. “They don’t exactly hand out social etiquette guides to humans.”

Emery stared at him, baffled. “You’re such a crappy vampire,” he said, guilt pooling up a little in his gut when Dorian flinched. “I mean, you go into places you’re not supposed to, you apologize for some sort of hangry fit, you tell me how old you are — which is a huge no-no, and shame on your sire for not telling you that!”

Dorian’s eyes narrowed slightly at that. “So if I’m a shitty vampire, does that mean you can talk to me?” he asked.

“What is with your insistence on talking to me? You’re like a little yappy dog,” Emery said, exasperated. “It’s almost like you think we’re friends when I’m a witch and you’re a lee—” He cut himself off, filling in more feebly with, “Vampire.” Because vampire definitely rhymed with leech, and it was an easy mistake to have made.

At least he was trying to be polite.

“I…” Dorian winced, his fingers running through his dark blond hair.

Realization dawned upon him, and Emery outright stared at him. “Oh my god,” he said, too stunned to watch his tongue — not like he really would have anyway. “You are trying to be friends with me. That’s so…”

Dorian rose, his cheeks even coloring a little like he really was this linebacker of a human instead of a fanger. “Yeah, so, I’m sorry. I thought—” He cut himself off.

“You tried to eat me,” Emery pointed out, deadpan.

“But I didn’t,” Dorian protested. “And I apologized.”

Emery stared at him, looking him up and down. It was a pity he was dead. Undead. Whatever. He’d have been exactly Emery’s type if he’d still been breathing—

Well, he couldn’t use that as a qualifier, considering the vampire actually was breathing. He was so weird that Emery had no idea what to do with him, which was saying something, considering how he usually felt around vampires.

Guilt stabbed him in the gut, and he looked away. This was not how he was supposed to be acting around a vampire. At all. He was supposed to be disgusted and irate… but he wasn’t.

He was curious about why a fledgling would be so desperate for friends that he’d try to make nice with the witch he’d nearly turned into a juice box — who would’ve turned him into a juice box if he’d been human instead.

“Yeah, so I’ll just…” Dorian turned, shoving his hands into his pockets and hurriedly walking away.

Emery watched, stunned. The last thing he was going to do was call after him. The creature would probably think that meant he wanted to be best buddies.

But he could never be friends with a bloodsucking leech like Dorian.





Chapter Four:
Dorian



“I feel so stupid,” Dorian confessed to Anson, leaning his head against the shoulder of the smaller man.

“Don’t feel stupid,” Anson said, tapping his chin and getting him to look up. “I think it’s sort of adorable.”

“Gee, thanks,” Dorian muttered, pulling away a little, only to have Anson tug him close again.

“It really is,” Anson insisted, running his fingers through Dorian’s hair. “It’s sweet.”

“Why can’t you ever think something’s… sexy, or hot?”

“Because you trying to act out a schoolgirl crush on a baby witch isn’t either of those things?” his sire said, arching a brow. “Come on, Dorian. There’s nothing sexy about you awkwardly trying to make nice with the witchling.”

Dorian sighed, glancing away from his sire. “Well, I keep thinking you’ll have to find something sexy,” he muttered.

Anson gave him an indulgent smile, patting him on the head. “Save yourself the time and effort and pursue the little witch or find someone else. I know you have needs. I wish I could be the one to satisfy them.”

Of course he had to be the one with a sire with zero desire for sex with anyone.

“I thought my libido would go down when I died, not up,” Dorian complained, staring down at where the tent in his pants was getting steadily more uncomfortable.

“You’re a twenty-two-year-old male,” Anson said, deadpan. “You thought anything was going to dim your sex drive?”

“You not being interested does!”

All right, so it didn’t really.

“You got me in bed, at least,” Anson pointed out, even though there was absolutely nothing sexual or even sensual about the way they were sitting in the small house’s master bedroom — well, except for the fact that it was more comfortable than anything Dorian had gotten to lie on in years. “Why are you trying so hard to get into my pants when there are plenty of men who would love to put their cocks in you?”

Dorian hated that he still blushed, but he did. “I don’t know how to find them,” he admitted.

“There are apps.”

Dorian glowered at his sire. “I was human up until a few weeks ago. What makes you think I have any idea how to operate a smartphone?”

“The fact that I’m old as balls and taught myself how to use one,” Anson retorted.

“You’re like two hundred.”

“I’m still old enough to where you should be ashamed that I can use an iPhone and you can’t.”

“And here comes the pop culture lecture,” Dorian said with a groan, flopping back down onto the bed beneath him. “Blah blah blah, I’m twenty-two. I need to learn how to use technology. You know humans didn’t even have access to electricity most of the time, but it’s not difficult,” he listed off irritably. “What else? Oh, and if you don’t have extensive pop culture knowledge, other vampires will assume you’re old as balls,” he shot a look at his sire, “or a baby. Seeing as how I am a baby, I don’t see the problem.”

“That’s because you’ve been a vampire for three weeks. You have ten years to catch up on, Dorian, which means a lot of Netflix without the chilling.”

Dorian stared blankly at him.

Anson groaned, grabbing one of the decorative pillows from the bed and tossing it at Dorian’s midsection. “Hopeless,” he declared.

“At least I know what Netflix is.”

“That’s only because I’ve been making you watch movie marathons,” Anson pointed out. “Otherwise, you’d still think movies were only on DVDs. Streaming,” his sire said with relish, “was the best modern invention.”

“That has nothing to do with me being a baby vampire,” Dorian said, sitting up again and hugging the little pillow against his chest. Sometimes, talking to Anson made him feel like a real idiot, even though he didn’t rightfully have any way of knowing this stuff. He’d been twelve when the world had gone to shit, and so much had changed that he barely recognized it sometimes.

Anson sighed, propping himself up against the mound of pillows. “It’s dangerous for you to be a fledgling,” he said, sobering. “Not everyone thinks we should be turning humans, and for some, you’re still too human.”

“I’m a vampire, and I’m not marked as a slave,” Dorian protested, but he looked away from his sire and over the room. The lavish decorations were worlds beyond what he’d grown up with, and he still had to blink to remind himself it wasn’t a dream. “And you picked me. That has to mean something to them.”

“Unless I’m with you, all they’re going to care about is the fact that you’re too new to look out for yourself, and not everyone is happy with vampires.”

“Why?”

Anson shifted uncomfortably but shook his head. “This isn’t the time to talk about politics. Suffice it to say that I need you to be more careful. I rather like you, and I would hate to lose you so soon.”

Dorian couldn’t help but grin at that. Anson wasn’t exactly the easiest person — well, vampire — to get along with, but somehow, he’d caught the man’s attention. He still didn’t know why he’d been picked, but the first time he’d gotten to take a hot shower, he’d had a hard time caring all that much. “And I don’t want to be lost so soon, so there’s that.”

“Regardless,” Anson said, grabbing his cell phone off the bedside table, “stay south of the fountain. Don’t go wandering into places you’re not wanted. Not enough of our kind go there for anyone to know what happened to you, but there are plenty who’d love to turn you to ash.”

“Why?” Dorian asked, hating that his voice held a childlike note in it.

Anson pursed his lips, looking at Dorian instead of the phone. “There’s always been prejudice,” he remarked. “It used to be about skin color and sexual orientation. Now…” He shook his head. “Well, there’s really always been dissonance among us, but vampires, werewolves, and witches were never meant to live so openly with one another.”

“Says who?” Dorian challenged. It didn’t make any sense to him.

Tossing his phone aside, Anson leaned in closer to him. He put a hand on either of Dorian’s arms, meeting his eyes. “Discrimination is a lesson you should know all too well from being a human,” Anson said.

Dorian opened his mouth, but Anson shook his head.

“No. Let me finish, Dorian,” his sire said, going into lecture mode. “Werewolves are our few natural enemies. Witches believe us to be interrupting the balance of the world.”

Dorian snorted.

“I know. It isn’t as though it’s very balanced right now.” Anson released Dorian’s shoulders. “But that will change.”

“How?” Dorian asked, eyebrow drawn up in skepticism. “If you even say anything about human rights, you end up with Enforcers at the door. Who’s really going to stand up for that?”

Anson briefly looked troubled, his eyes distant. For several moments, the only sound was that of the fan whirring. Then his sire closed his eyes. “Those who have nothing else to lose.”





Chapter Five:
Emery



It hadn’t been hard to follow the vampire at a safe distance. Emery scoffed to himself more than once that Dorian really was a newbie vampire, because he didn’t even seem to know he was being followed. No glances back, no pausing, no… anything that might make him think he had been discovered.

He still didn’t know why he’d done it. It wasn’t really safe to head out of witch territory into more mixed neighborhoods, but he couldn’t help but be fascinated by the vampire. He was odd, and Emery couldn’t help but be drawn to that. It wasn’t like he’d ever been completely normal, either, and…

It had gotten more difficult to keep track of Dorian as the houses had grown sparse, but the vampire seemed too distracted to be concerned with one small stalker. Stupid. If Emery had really wanted to get revenge on him for almost making him a snack, it would’ve been easy to get his address and light the place on fire.

He didn’t want to, though.

Instead, he’d found himself thinking of the vampire’s lips near his throat, of the delicious shiver that had run down his spine — and the fact that he still wanted to know what being bitten felt like. By all accounts, it was amazing, but that was the problem with it. They were predators, and it was easier to handle prey that was lulled into a sense of false security.

No. He needed to call it what it was.

Ecstasy. It was ecstasy.

He stared at the normal brick house in the middle of the normal neighborhood, noting in the rapidly fading sunlight that the grass was a little overgrown.

It was only fair that Emery played stalker now, since Dorian had done that to him. He didn’t even know how the vampire had found the cafe, but he probably didn’t know where Emery lived. Someone would’ve noticed a leech creeping near the apartment buildings… especially one that was as young and inexperienced as this one.

The bite probably wouldn’t be ecstasy with him.

Damn it, Emery.

Sitting down on the curb, Emery tried to figure out exactly what he was doing as he watched for activity across the street. It was utterly dark, probably sun-proofed all to hell, and when the door opened, he didn’t have any warning before the vampire stepped out.

He just found himself staring at Dorian, who of course wasn’t going to be a shitty predator tonight, because he noticed Emery right away.

A frown creased his brow, and Dorian crossed over to Emery as Emery shot to his feet. “Um. Hi.”

“Hi,” Dorian said cautiously, standing a few feet away from him. “You’re, um, at my house.”

“Really? I had no idea,” Emery said, wide-eyed.

Dorian cracked a smile, and Emery searched his mouth for signs of fangs. None. Where did they go when they weren’t being used? Would they just pop out? What about if someone kissed those full lips? Would they—

Damn it, Emery!

“Can I ask why you’re at my house?”

“I, uh.” Emery played with his shirt sleeve, trying to figure out what to say. He should’ve rehearsed something on the way over, but he’d been too worried about the fact that he’d stalked a vampire all the way home without getting caught — which his ego liked a lot, even if he frowned upon it for the vampire’s sake. “I was in the neighborhood.”

Dorian took a step closer, and Emery felt it, the brush of death that hung around him like some tangible specter. Vampires. They just felt so… so wrong, but Emery couldn’t help but be fascinated by them anyway. No matter what they’d done to his community, no matter how bad relations were right then, he still wanted to know about them.

Just… maybe not this close up.

“Uh-huh.” Dorian waited, studying him.

Emery flushed under the assessment, unable to keep the impression that Dorian was interested in what he saw at bay. The feeling was mutual, even if Dorian was a fanger and this was a terrible idea. “I shouldn’t be standing outside your house.”

“Do you want to… maybe come inside?” Dorian asked.

“That’s even worse,” Emery replied, twitching. But it was better than someone seeing him hanging out in this part of town, talking to a fanger. Ares would be pissed, and Emery didn’t know how he’d explain it.

So, yeah, even though we’ve had really bad experience with leeches, I went to…

To what? What had Emery gone there for?

“But sure,” he added, taking a step toward the house. He was halfway across the street, Dorian matching his pace, before he froze. “Is your… you know, your other vampire person home?”

“Uh.” Dorian was the one to blush that time. “My sire’s… still sleeping, and he won’t care. It’s not like I have to ask permission to have someone over.”

Emery couldn’t help but think he didn’t look very convinced. “He’s not going to eat me?”

“Not unless you want him to.”

Heat suddenly blazed within Emery, and he blushed an even deeper shade of red. No, he didn’t want that. He didn’t want that at all. He didn’t want any vampire near his neck, or any other part of him!

Which was why he was letting Dorian take his hand and draw him the rest of the way across the street until he was standing in the relative safety of the driveway.

“I was kidding,” Dorian said, looking a little sheepish as Emery looked up at him. “About the… Yeah, I know. It wasn’t funny.”

“You really haven’t been around people much, have you?” Emery asked, folding his arms across his chest. “You’re terrible at this.”

Dorian’s shoulders dropped, and Emery felt like he’d just kicked a puppy.

“I mean, this is better, what with the not pinning me against a—”

Oh, fuck, the mental images that conjured up were not any he should’ve had about a leech.

“Um.”

“It’s okay,” Dorian said, flashing him a self-deprecating smile. “I’m really not good at this. Things are sort of… different where I’m from.” He hesitated, then took a step toward the door, tilting his head in silent question.

Emery slowly nodded, taking a step after him and letting himself be led to the door of what could very well be the lair of vampires who were addicted to the blood of witches.

So maybe he was being slightly ridiculous.

“What’s it like?” Emery asked curiously as he stepped into the entryway behind Dorian. The door closed, making him jump, but at least the vampire didn’t try to lock it or anything else.

“Living room’s through there,” Dorian said, pointing to the first door on the right. “What’s what like?”

Emery took his time going to the living room, which somewhat disappointingly looked like any other living room. A little cleaner, maybe — well, definitely cleaner than his, because Ares was a pig — but not that different. No skulls, no vials of blood, no crazy modern art.

“Um.” Emery scratched his head, suddenly feeling awkward about asking. “Being, you know. Human.”

Dorian gestured to the couch, and Emery sat down. To his combined terror and delight, the vampire sat next to him.

“It’s, um. I mean…” Dorian trailed off, then closed his eyes.

Emery winced. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s okay,” Dorian interrupted. “Really.” But he was quiet again before he said slowly, “Pretty bad. Things are… There’s nothing left, you know? Things like toilet cleaner are luxuries.”

Emery shot him a look, incredulous.

“When you have five bucks, are you going to try to haggle for food or cleaning supplies?” Dorian asked him, fidgeting with the shirt he was wearing. He definitely didn’t look like he’d been struggling for food, not with the way he was built.

“Did you have to fight for food?” Emery asked in morbid fascination, trying to paint a picture in his mind of the human slums. It felt exotic, somehow, and guilt raced through him at the idea that it might be interesting when it was utter hell for those who lived there.

“I, ah. No. Not me. It was just a… I was sort of…” Dorian inhaled deeply then released the breath, just like he might if he were human. “A bodyguard, I guess you’d say?”

Emery blinked at him, resting back on the couch. “A bodyguard,” he repeated. “Did you think you were going to protect someone against supes?” he blurted out.

It was Dorian’s turn to flinch. “No. There are…” He ran a hand through his hair, looking awkwardly toward one of the other doors before returning his gaze to Emery. “Humans need protection from other humans sometimes.”

“What?” Emery didn’t know how he’d gotten it in his mind that all the humans were working together, but he’d figured they all sort of supported each other.

“Where we were, we didn’t really have to worry about food because we had gardens and stuff,” Dorian said.

Emery didn’t really have a hard time picturing Dorian as a farm worker, even though football player probably would’ve suited him more.

“But we had to defend it. People are hungry—” Dorian cut himself off. “I don’t even know your name, you know that?”

“Oh.” Emery briefly contemplated giving a false name, but he ended up going with, “Emery.”

“Emery,” Dorian repeated. “So yeah, people are hungry, Emery, and it doesn’t really bring out the best in them. We traded for clean water. Man, the first time I took a hot shower here…”

The look of utter bliss on Dorian’s face made Emery’s stomach twist a little. Were things really bad enough to where they were fighting over food and water? People had said that humans had only been shoved down to the bottom of the food chain so supes could rise up. Once they were sure humans weren’t going to slaughter them, they were supposed to… Well, fix these things, weren’t they?

Except that wasn’t going to happen. The world was too far gone, and if they tried to give humans anything, it was going to go badly.

“I’m sorry,” Emery said awkwardly, looking down at his feet.

“It’s…” Another deep breath. “It’s not your fault, obviously. You’re even younger than me. You were, what, eight at the Takeover?”

“Ten!” Emery said a little hotly. “I’m twenty, thank you very much.”

“You look younger,” Dorian said with a half-smile. “But yeah, there’s not much you can do. They put down rebels so fast that I don’t think anyone tries anymore.” He paused, seeming to mull something over, but he didn’t share it aloud.

Emery waited, but Dorian didn’t say anything for several moments.

“I should probably… you know, go out and feed before I go…”

“Feral?” Emery supplied instantly, cringing again at himself and his terrible case of open mouth, insert foot. He just couldn’t seem to stop it, not with Dorian — not with anyone really, but it seemed like it was even worse with the vampire. It was like he was nervous or something, but he wasn’t.

Really.

Why would he be nervous about being alone in the living room of a baby fanger while an even older one slept nearby?

“Yeah.” Dorian’s expression was bleak, and he refused to look at Emery. “Anson, my sire… He got onto me about waiting too long to feed. It’s just weird going up to people — humans — and telling them to give up the goods. They don’t have a choice, but I don’t like it.”

Emery wanted to make a smartass comment about how little he’d seemed to care before, but for once he kept his mouth shut.

“So yeah. I’ll walk you out,” Dorian said, starting to get to his feet.

Emery’s hand shot out, grabbing Dorian’s wrist. “N-no,” he stammered. “You can… I mean… If you want…”

Dorian stilled, even his chest ceasing its rising and falling for a moment before he shook himself back into the present. “You don’t know what you’re offering.” He didn’t pull his arm away, instead putting his other hand on top of Emery’s.

“Um. I sit here, tilt my neck to the side, you puncture it with really sharp teeth, drink my blood through fangs that have to be like straws or something, and hope you don’t kill me?” Emery ventured. “I think that about covers it.”

Dorian stared at him.

“What? It covers it, right?”





Chapter Six:
Dorian



“Right,” Dorian said after a pause, feeling dazed. “But Emery—”

“Your sire’s not far, so I can just scream if things get too crazy, or you can, you know,” Emery argued. “Scream if you get too scared.”

The words surprised a laugh out of Dorian, and he stared at the crazy little witch sitting on his couch. “You’re insane. You have to be.”

Emery’s face immediately fell. “I kinda am,” he confessed. “If Ares and the others found out how fascinated I am by you, I’d be in serious shit.”

“Ares?” Dorian asked, slowly sitting back down onto the couch, much closer to Emery — who, thank fuck, didn’t move away from him.

“Ares Kellan. He’s the witch in charge of our… Well, we have groups, just like humans do, I guess. It’s still scary. Every once in a while, they do a sweep for witches with the European families’ blood. And someone like me? I’m lucky they even see me as a witch,” Emery said.

“Yeah, you don’t—” Was there a polite way to say that he could mistake Emery for human in every way? There wasn’t even a spark of power coming off of him to warn Dorian that he might be something more.

“I’m in a no-name family with piss-poor magic,” Emery said, more bluntly than Dorian had expected. His fingers briefly closed more tightly around Dorian’s wrist. “But at least I’m not one of the unlucky ones, you know?”

“I still have no fucking idea what happened with all of that,” Dorian replied. “We weren’t exactly getting clear messages about what was going on. Just that we had to submit to things we didn’t even know exist, or we could die.”

Emery hesitated, his eyes turning distant as he looked past Dorian. Slowly, he leaned closer, and Dorian’s already unbeating heart threatened to stop all over again as the witch rested his cheek against his shoulder. “Well, it wasn’t as…” He shook his head a little. “So they wanted everyone, you know, all humans and stuff, to think that we were all unanimous, that like… their little ‘let’s take over the world!’ scheme was embraced by everyone and all was well.”

“That’s kinda what I thought happened,” Dorian admitted slowly. He searched his memory, but it had been so long ago. If he’d gotten hints of dissidence among supes, he didn’t remember it. They’d provided a united front, which had been part of the reason it had been so terrifying to wake up in a world gone mad.

The only people who had fought had been humans, which was why they had lost that whole war… wasn’t it?

“The like… The old families didn’t wanna come out of the broom closet. They voted against it.”

Dorian’s eyes widened. “There was a… vote?”

Emery offered a faint smile. “That’s what they say. I’m not sure how accurate it is. I mean, who knows if it was just one person saying, ‘gee, I wonder what would happen if…’”

“I think it was a little too well planned for that.” Dorian might’ve only been twelve, but everyone who could’ve resisted effectively had been broken down before the Takeover had begun. Political leaders, the military… even televangelists had been corrupted, though Dorian suspected that hadn’t taken a whole lot of convincing.

“Well, anyway, it’s like old money and new money was. Old family, new family. The old families had more power, but they were lazy and just assumed they’d always be in charge. The new families…” Emery nibbled his bottom lip, which was incredibly distracting from where he did it next to Dorian’s shoulder. “There were more of them, they were more demanding, and things just… I don’t even know. It all went sort of nuts. I was ten, you know? I just know that suddenly Mrs. Conti vanished from next door, and—”

That was a story Dorian knew too well, and he suddenly couldn’t handle hearing any more of it. “It’s… I think that’s all I can stand for one day,” he said with a nervous laugh. He’d seen so many people vanish from his life that it was hard to make friends without being afraid they’d be gone the next day.

“Yeah, sorry,” Emery said, peering up at him.

It was a good thing Emery had beautiful green eyes, because Dorian lost himself in them instead of old, bitter memories of acrid smoke and desperate screams. Today wasn’t the day to relive that. Right now, he had a chance to feed without becoming the monster he knew so many of his kind could be.

To feed, and…

Emery kissed him.

Obviously, Dorian wasn’t the only one who wanted to kiss the memories away. The witchling crawled into his lap, straddling him, and the kiss turned from something uncertain and chaste to something deep and insistent.

Dorian melted into it, yielding to the smaller man’s determined kisses. His hands went to Emery’s waist then slid to his back, one running along his spine and pulling him closer. He was so hard he thought he might burst like he really was just a teenager, and—

The sound of a throat clearing made him jerk back, and Dorian looked up with wide eyes to see Anson standing in the doorway. Oh, fuck. His sire had pretty much encouraged him to get laid, but this wasn’t exactly what he thought the man had had in mind.

“The couch is brand new,” Anson said, quirking a brow. “And you have a bed. Shoo.”

“Anson, I’m—”

“You can introduce me to your little witch friend later,” Anson interrupted. The smirk slowly spreading across his lips was a danger sign, and it meant Dorian was going to get embarrassed all over again if he didn’t get up and fucking move. “I can just stop by your room to check on you two before I leave, if you’d like.”

“No!” Dorian said quickly. “No. I, um, we’re fine.”

“No, sir,” Emery squeaked, looking up at Anson with his cheeks almost as red as his hair.

“Good. Well, feed first, Dorian. Don’t get careless. And there are snacks in the kitchen for your boyfriend when you’re done.”

“He’s not my—”

“I’ll be in my room. Holler if you need me.” Anson paused, wrinkling his nose, then added like the troll he was being, “On second thought, I’m going to have soundproof headphones on.”

Dorian groaned, and Emery turned an even brighter shade of red.

“Can you not act like a dad?” Dorian complained, only then realizing he hadn’t released Emery. He did then, abruptly enough to where he almost dumped the witch onto the floor before he caught him. “I’m fine. I’m going to feed.”

He cast a look at Emery, who looked every bit as mortified as he did.

Anson caught Dorian’s gaze, and Dorian braced himself for another snarky comment. But his sire’s expression was serious when he quietly said, “Be careful, Dorian.” He offered a nod to Emery. “Be safe. You have enough power to handle yourself against a fledgling.”

Did he? How would Anson even know that? Dorian looked between the two, baffled, but Anson went back to his room before he could ask any more questions.

“Do you have any idea what just happened?” Dorian asked dizzily, slowly standing up and offering his hand out to Emery.

“I think that was the vampire equivalent of the birds and the bees talk,” Emery said, taking his hand.

“Right. So who’s the bird, and who’s the bee?” Dorian asked, still dazed, as he slowly — so slowly — started to lead Emery to his bedroom door. “How does that even…” He shook his head. “Are you sure?” he asked, his voice soft.

Emery nodded. “Your sire’s kinda hot,” he said in a hushed voice. “Do you…”

Dorian made a face, opening his door and letting Emery inside. “He’s not into sex. Like… at all.”

“That’s… disappointing,” Emery said, casting another look at the other door.

“Tell me about it,” Dorian said.





Chapter Seven:
Emery



As soon as the door closed behind them, it got awkward again.

It was like they were just two teenagers again, not a fledgling vampire and what barely passed for a witch. All of the boundaries that might have spun into place between them because of those differences melted away, leaving only two men and enough sexual tension to fuel a porno.

Emery briefly wondered if Dorian had ever seen a porno. No running water meant no television, right? And that meant they probably hadn’t had much by way of—

Damn it. He didn’t want to be thinking about that.

“Hi,” Dorian said weakly, staring at Emery.

“Hi,” Emery replied, going to him and wrapping his arms around the vampire’s much broader chest. “You look scared. This your first time or something?”

Dorian groaned. “You really don’t understand what tact is, do you?”

Emery at least had the grace to feel a little guilty for that. “I… Um. No. No, not really.”

His friend Ned had always gotten on his ass about that, but ever since the vampire incident…

Great. Now Emery felt guilty for being in a vampire’s bedroom, eagerly offering his throat and who knew what else, when he’d lost people to vampires.

But then, he wondered how many people Dorian had lost to witches, or werewolves, or even vampires.

Or other humans, because from the sound of it, it wasn’t exactly a peaceful existence.

He shut all of those things out of his mind, wanting to have memories to cling to that didn’t make him wake up screaming from the stench of burning—

“Hey,” Dorian said softly. “What’s going on?”

Emery shook his head, tightening his arms and resting his head against Dorian’s chest. “Just my head getting in the way of everything.”

“You want to go?” Dorian asked, sweet thing that he was.

Emery only held him close and shook his head again. “I want…” Fuck, could he even bring himself to say the words?

“C’mon,” Dorian said, understanding the words he couldn’t bring himself to utter aloud. “Let’s sit down.”

Dorian sat on the edge of his bed, patting the spot next to him, and Emery joined him. It was nice in there, clean and well taken care of, and it reminded him of the days before the Takeover… So much did, these past few days. It was insane, how much meeting a vampire had gotten him to think about the past.

“We don’t have to—”

Emery leaned in and kissed him again, not wanting to have to go through the doubts that threatened to get in the way. Dorian let out a soft, startled sound, but he submitted again, which made Emery go all tingly. He was used to more aggressive guys, especially when they outweighed him twice over, but this particular hunk didn’t seem interested in flipping them over and taking control.

Which meant…

Fuck yeah.

“I need to play juice box,” Emery reminded him, breathless and flushed already as he pulled back.

Dorian made a face, and he just looked uncomfortable — right up until the point that Emery pushed him down on his own bed and climbed on top of him, kicking off his shoes. In for a penny, in for a goddamn pound, right?

Crawling onto him, Emery kissed his lips, his chin, his jaw, then placed the ghost of a kiss on Dorian’s throat.

The vampire let out a choked sound, clinging to Emery, and when Emery turned his head and offered the expanse of his own neck, Dorian was on him.

It was a little terrifying, knowing he was letting a baby vampire feed on him, but he had to believe that Dorian would hold himself back. At the very last, the sire wouldn’t have left them alone if he thought something bad was going to happen… would he?

Fangs lightly brushed his throat, sharp points raking against flesh, and Emery’s breath caught in a hiss. He arched, his hand sliding to the back of Dorian’s head and his fingers buried in the vampire’s hair as he urged him close. “Drink,” he whispered, half-pleading from the pleasure of expectation as much as everything else.

Dorian didn’t hesitate then, and—

Oh. Oh.

Emery couldn’t think. The world raced by around him, one second whirling into the next or maybe dragging on for hours, and he was only aware of those lips on his skin. Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck, no wonder people begged to be bitten. If it felt like this, he could see himself begging for it again, and oh.

Dorian drank greedily, a little messily, some of the blood escaping and trickling down Emery’s neck. Emery let out a choked sound, unable to bring himself to care as he thrust up against Dorian’s body. He was already hard, already imagining what it might be like to thrust into the vampire’s body in the wake of this pleasure. Would it be a letdown, or would he still be a little giddy, a lot high?

One helpless moan after another slid past his lips, and when Dorian pulled back, Emery mewled in protest and tried to draw him against his throat again. The vampire licked the wound clean, but he didn’t bite again, and Emery wriggled atop him and tried to entice him.


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